Goodbye Fuck You Bob

I heard last night that Fuck You Bob was dead and it made me sad.

The Record Pub website put up this obituary about Bob. The Kent Patch put up an article about his memorial service. And Nick Rock put together this video tribute to him.

Bob’s friends are making an effort to put the proper spin on his life as an artist and his contributions to the town as a philosopher and intellectual. I appreciate that. I think it’s a good thing. But the tribute-makers seem to want to avoid the one thing that most people remember best about Bob. And that is the fact that Bob Wood walked around Kent, Ohio for decades telling people to fuck off.

I first encountered Bob when I was a freshman at Kent State University. I was sitting in one of the big lecture halls one night to see a movie. It was some sort of indie artsy film. Maybe Eraserhead or something along those lines. I don’t remember the movie at all, though. What I remember is Fuck You Bob.

I was there with Mick Hurray, the drummer of Zero Defex. Bob was directly in front of us. And he kept giving us the finger. He never turned around. He never said anything. He just flipped us the bird over and over. And he was doing it in a really weird way. He kept turning his hands at different angles (he was giving it to us with both hands) so as to make certain we got his message.

We thought this was hilarious. So we gave him the finger back. I’m not sure if he saw this, though. Like I said, he never turned around. We weren’t angry or offended at all. It was much too weird for that.

Throughout my time as a student at Kent State I saw Fuck You Bob around town. He had a load of bizarre behaviors. For example, I once saw him walking down the middle of a busy street. Every time a car would come by, he’d jump up on the sidewalk and wait for it to pass. Then he’d get back into the road and continue walking.

Several years after this I moved back to Kent after living in Chicago for a while. I was walking down Franklin Avenue from downtown toward the Kent Zendo, where I lived. I saw Fuck You Bob coming my way. I wondered what he was going to do. He didn’t say anything as he passed me, didn’t even give me the finger. And I found myself being a little offended at this. He said “fuck you” to everyone else in town. He’d even said “fuck you” to me on more than one occasion. Was he snubbing me now? What did I do to him?

But a couple seconds after he passed I heard him say, “Suck my dick.” And you know what? I felt good. I’m not even joking. I still remember how nice I felt to have been told by Fuck You Bob to suck his dick. If he hadn’t said anything to me that day I’d probably still feel I’d been slighted.

I never encountered Fuck You Bob again after that day. But I remember being in Japan and hearing from friends back home that Bob had gotten better. He was getting his art exhibited around town. He was studying for his Master’s degree. And shockingly, he wasn’t saying “fuck you” quite as often anymore. Though I was relieved to hear that he still did it sometimes.

Bob had a lot of what most people think of as “mental diseases.” A lot of people said he had Tourette’s Syndrome. But I never heard of anyone having officially made that diagnosis. Still, he was an odd character.

I always wondered if his habit of telling people to fuck off ever got him in real trouble. Kent State University is not one of those schools that attract the best and the brightest this nation has to offer. Heck, I even went there! One of these days I’ll tell you about my first roommate. God that guy was as dumb as a box of putty. If Fuck You Bob was flipping the bird to guys like that, especially when they were drunk, which they always were, he was surely getting the crud beat out of him on a regular basis. I hope he was at least targeting wimps like me who weren’t likely to get very mad at him.

The concept of mental disease is an interesting one. We know enough about the proper functioning of the kidneys or the bladder or the spleen to be able to diagnose when they’re working incorrectly. But when it comes to the brain, things get a bit murkier.

Take someone like Bob. In many ways it would be easy to dismiss him as crazy. But from what I can tell and from what I’ve heard he lived pretty much the life he wanted to live. He was by all accounts a very intelligent and even kind person. He probably had no desire at all to fit in with regular society. And he didn’t. I admire him for finding a way to live his life on his own terms.

He was also, from what I’ve heard, kind of a pain in the ass to people who knew him. I don’t know the details. But I can guess. I mean, for gosh sakes he was saying “fuck you” to everybody in town all the time. That alone is hard to deal with.

One of the things Zen has helped me with is my own tendency to be a sort of Fuck You Bob type character. My difficulties in dealing with society are not as deep seated as his were. But I too have some serious problems reconciling what I know to be true with the bullshit most people seem to believe. I could have easily gone in a direction that would have ended me up in much the same shape as Bob. The Zen thing helped me be able to laugh at the collective illusions society shares and yet still play the game well enough to get by.

This is why I get so annoyed when some people try to turn Zen into what most religions these days have become, a way to placate people so they’re numb enough to function as cogs in the social machine. It’s not about that.

To me it’s about finding your inner Fuck You Bob and making peace with that. But without killing it off or boxing it up either. That’s also important.

I’ll miss Fuck You Bob. I wish I could’ve met him just once and sat down and told him how much it meant to me when he told me to suck his dick. I really wonder what he’d have said. Maybe he’d have told me to fuck off.

131 Responses

Page 3 of 3
  1. Jamal
    Jamal February 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm |

    The word is not nigga and you know that.

    SHITsterion sucks, my nigga.

  2. Jamal
    Jamal February 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    Don't be afraid man. There is a way out of that shit. But it takes discipline.

  3. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 15, 2012 at 6:27 pm |


    Don't listen to the voices.

    Take your medication. You need it.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 15, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

    Writing for Tricycle?

    Punk is dead.

  5. Jamal
    Jamal February 15, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

    Wow.. There's some cold motherfuckers around here.

  6. anonymous anonymous
    anonymous anonymous February 15, 2012 at 7:32 pm |

    Jamal, I think that was mysterion impersonating you. He is a Free Mason and probably KKK also.

  7. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm |

    Like to thank anonymous for the link to the Issho Fujita workshop.

  8. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

    Anonymous anonymous anonymous said…
    "Jamal, I think that was mysterion impersonating you. He is a Free Mason and probably KKK also."


    I am neither a Free Mason (sic) nor a KKKer. I'm not even an inexpensive mason. But I can see the John Birch Society from my living room window.

  9. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner February 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |


    I have no specific plans to visit SFZC. But I'll likely spend a good portion of this summer in Tassajara as I have for the past 3 years. Which means I'll probably at least pass thru SFZC City Center.

    Why do you ask?

  10. proulx michel
    proulx michel February 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm |

    Stoned Philosopher John Mumbles said…

    Have you ever scratched your balls and then sniffed your hands?

    There's a saying in Southern France:

    "Quand on s'endort avec le cul qui gratte, on se réveille avec les doigts qui puent…"

    (When one goes to sleep with an itching arse, one wakes up with stinky fingers)

  11. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf February 16, 2012 at 12:31 am |

    FUCK OFF AND SUCK MY DICK!!! Ha…feels good.

  12. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf February 16, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  13. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 16, 2012 at 3:41 am |

    I think we all at some points in our lives have pivotal people and events.

    Some times these are of the shocking kind, making us rethink certain assumptions.

    For myself Daniel Coffeen made me rethink so much, I know I've posted some links to his stuff before but some one might get something out of them.


    Periodic apocalypse: Extermination of the Human Host ??
    How Parasitic Capitalism Consumes, Confines and Controls. July 31, 2009. Featuring Daniel Coffeen, PhD. DJ Prefect brings her certified scientism to a discussion of an emergent socioeconomic system that trivializes art, literature, health, and leisure even while obesity and chronic diseases rise and science literacy reaches all time lows. How did we get here and where are we going? Jane, get us off this crazy thing!


    The Seer is Seen
    Grande finale
    Joyful Seeing and Bergson

  14. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 16, 2012 at 6:50 am |

    Hey zenmonsters, Zen Monster 3 is out, with an essay by Brad on building a “zen monster” ie; Genpo.

  15. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 16, 2012 at 7:50 am |


    Give me a heads up when you are headed out this way and I'll meet you at SFZC again. Tassajara has a no pet (pee& poop) policy so Shiro and I don't go, even though I religiously pick up after him. Picking up his doggie droppings is my religion…

    SFZC (a.k.a. West Mission, Zen Center*) enjoys your visits and so do I.


    *300 Page St., San Francisco
    This is one of Julia Morgan's most gracious small institutional buildings, originally designed as the Emanuel Sisterhood Residence.

    Julia Morgan is a very famous architect. She was "architect to the onepercenters."


  16. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 16, 2012 at 10:21 am |

    Blogger proulx michel:

    In France, you should get a former Templar Castle* for a Zen Center…

    That would be cool…

    *Château de La Jarthe was once a refuge for the Order of the Knights Templar, the secretive Christian [read Roman Catholic] military order that once wreaked havoc in the region.

    Besides, you could drive out all the demons. Lord knows the catholics have far more than their fair share!

  17. Moni
    Moni February 16, 2012 at 11:06 am |

    That demon place looks nice.

  18. proulx michel
    proulx michel February 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

    Mysterion said…

    Blogger proulx michel:

    In France, you should get a former Templar Castle* for a Zen Center…

    Two small problems.
    1- It's more than 500 km away from here
    2- I'm afraid I don't have 5,5 M euro…

  19. Harry
    Harry February 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

    I like 'Fuck me Bob', his sexually promiscuous brother.

    Regards, H.

  20. Harry
    Harry February 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

    Michel, simply get your followers to pay for it. What were you thinkin'!



  21. proulx michel
    proulx michel February 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

    Harry said…

    Michel, simply get your followers to pay for it. What were you thinkin'!

    And go live in an annex of England?!!

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 17, 2012 at 3:34 am |

    Diet Soap podcast #103 : The Experience of an Idea

    The guest this week is the pop philosopher Daniel Coffeen. Mister Coffeen is a recurring guest to Diet Soap, and this week we discuss his essay The Experience of An Idea


    Diet Soap Podcast #105: Television on the Wire

    The guest this week is the philosopher and rhetor Daniel Coffeen and we discuss one of his favorite television programs: David Simon’s the Wire.

  23. Harry
    Harry February 17, 2012 at 4:21 am |


    I'd be quite glad to live in just an annex of England… at the moment I seem to be living in the remains of a annex of Holy Mother Rome, Britain, he USof A, and some big ill-defined malevolent Euro Bank.

    Besides, I quite like cricket.

    Regawds, owld stick.


  24. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 17, 2012 at 6:32 am |

    Brad @ 4:51 PM said:
    Schmee said regarding Schmee's comment on Fuck You Bob and Outsider Art:

    "That's pretty funny. I never realized it worked that way."

    There's a very good interview with Sam Farber, trustee of the American Folk Art Museum regarding outsider art and commerce in the current issue of THE BELIEVER. See

  25. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 17, 2012 at 6:46 am |

    Also see this trailer on another fascinating American "outsider artist" Henry Darger…

    "Just because there are questions doesn't mean there are answers."

  26. A-Bob
    A-Bob February 17, 2012 at 10:47 am |

    John e,

    Henry Darger was an amazing guy. I was able to see some of his work in a traveling exhibition of Outsider Art a few years ago. Some of his pieces were huge. Adolf Wolfi had a number of paintings in the show also. All very cool.

  27. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm |

    Cool, A-Bob! I bet that was amazing. If you haven't seen that Darger film, I urge you to.

    There are stories (possibly bullshit)about Picasso and Braque visiting Woolfi at the asylum, stealing his ideas, etc.

    I think there are some recordings of his music floating around, too.

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 20, 2012 at 4:46 am |


  29. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm |


  30. Fregas
    Fregas March 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    One of your best posts yet, and as usual I totally appreciate your anti-establishment slant on things.

    But Brad…I have to ask:do you like ANYONE mainstream?

  31. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm |

    Im a newbie as far as twitter is concerned and Buddhism, meditation and all but about 6 weeks ago I also decided to follow Thich Naht Hanh. Anyway and after a few tweets from both him and some others I decided very early on it was a whole load of crock…im shocked that someone like yourself also had the same views. Not that the man himself is full of crock but what is being passed as his views is a whole load o crock! Maybe the students or whoever they are feel obliged to post something…I sometimes feel like I have to speak at meetings in my work but sometimes I say things that are just what people want to hear rather than what needs to be said if that makes sense…sometimes if you have nothing to add of any value don’t add anything…silence is just as, if not more powerful than a whole load o crock…that sunrise thing…I read that post and I was on the train that morning trying to read my book but the sun was blinding me so much I actually moved to another seat just so I could continue with my reading. Everyone loves a beautiful sunrise but normally its when there is sporadic cloud cover and the sun is just coming up and it taints the clouds red, then orange then white and when the sun finally comes over the horizon its time to look away as everyone knows they cannot look the sun direct on.
    I also feel its very sad that some people have taken your comments about Hitler and the Charles guy way too far…im not claiming to know much but unfortunately no matter what anyone thinks…hitler was me and im Charles whats his face…one thing I do get is that im part of the whole shebang whether I like that idea or not, all branches on the tree as it were…I know I have a lot to learn, ive only been studying it a few years and I don’t like agreeing with people…in fact its my job to find flaws in peoples thinking but I somehow completely feel the same way you did about Thich Naht Hanh comments that morning…never mind im sure ill find something I can disagree with at some point…but thought i should share my comments as I feel the same way you do. Maybe there are others out there that should do my job as they are quite good at disagreeing just for the sake of saying something when nothing really needs to be said.

    Kind regards

Comments are closed.